St. Martin’s Wine Bistro is retro in the best way.

White tablecloths and formally set tables await guests. The dim lighting exudes romance. In a restaurant world that is always looking to innovate and find the next big thing, St. Martin’s on Lower Greenville stays true to its roots.

Classical art hangs on the walls. The 100-year-old bar is a massive cherry wood beauty imported in two pieces from France.

St. Martin’s story started when the San Francisco Rose, its former neighbor and one of the last of the fern bars, was opened by Scott Fickling in 1976. Soon after, Fickling and his business partner and Bryan Adams High School classmate Phil Patterson opened St. Martin’s as a neighborhood wine bistro with classic French fare.

In 1998, Mohsen Heideri took over the restaurant and has run it ever since. Mohsen also owns Arthur’s Prime Seafood and Steaks in Addison. He wanted to uphold the traditional charm of the bistro.

“This is a unique place, nothing has to be changed,” longtime manager John Savarian says.

St. Martin’s, which is open 365 days a year, seems to have found a formula for success over the last 40 years. It is the ultimate special-occasion restaurant, hosting countless rehearsal dinners in its private back room. Savarian has witnessed dozens of marriage proposals amongst the dimly lit tables.

The restaurant combines reasonably priced domestic and foreign wine with French classic dishes such as beef bourguignon, steak tartare and lamb chops from chef Alfred Santa, who has been cooking at St. Martin’s for 20 years. The restaurant’s brunch includes eggs Benedict, beef tenderloin and a seafood crêpe.

Quiet conversations around St. Martin’s tables are accompanied by live piano seven nights a week, often by musician Louis Henderson, who has been entertaining guests for the last 15 years.

Savarian says the restaurant is a bistro where guests can get the best in French food without wearing a tuxedo. Restaurant employees embrace their East Dallas neighborhood. The ultimate night for him is watching a couple leave the restaurant, hand in hand, satisfied and in love.

“We want you to leave this door with a smile,” Savarian says. “We treat everyone like a king or queen.”

Did you Know?  Between the 1940s and 1970s, the St. Martin’s restaurant building was a biker bar and had one of the first air conditioning units in town.

St. Martin’s Wine Bistro

Ambiance: Neighborhood romance

Price Range: $20-$40

Hours: Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Brunch: Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Address: 3020 Greenville Ave.

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